• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

What is the Merchant like?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Claire Gittoes What is the Merchant like? In the general Prologue the portrait of the merchant is like the man himself, not straightforward. He is described having, "a forked berd, In mottelee, and hye on horse he sat; Upon his heed a Flaundryssh bever hat, His bootes clasped faire and fetisly." His forked beard is an indication of his fashionable nature but also overtones of the devil; in addition it could symbolize his duplicity, at which Chaucer only hints. He is well dressed, in a very business like way, with his clothes being the height of fashion, the "bever hat" and "his bootes clasped faire and fetisly." Chaucer does depending on ones interpretation; persuade the reader not to take the Merchant on his own valuation. The presentation of the Merchant is secretive and dignified: "his social status, bolstered by his apparent wealth, is high." He occupies the middle position of the social strata of the Pilgrims, but he is clearly on the way up, the description of him sat high on his horse possibly an indication of his rising social status. However, Chaucer intentionally provides the Merchant with a fabliau tale, which are typically told my Peasants. This indicates that although the Merchant may appear to be or think that he is rising in status, he still possesses lower class characteristics and ideas. ...read more.

Middle

January serves as a vehicle for the Merchant, whose attitudes, opinions, and perceptions of women classify him undoubtedly as a motley-clad misogynist, for example, when she said that woman were created for mans help" That womman is for mannes helpe ywroght." Characteristically, he is a fool. January is developed as a vehicle through the connection of teller to tale, textual implications of misogyny, and the limited sight (faulty or deliberate) experienced by key characters. The Merchant's misogyny is a product of his marital disillusionment. His misery and resulting hatred could be likened to purchasing a faulty product, or falling victim to false advertisement. One could assume, in a manner of speaking, that he bought more than he bargained for when he entered into marriage. The Merchant has a "special view of the male-female relationship and to the theme of 'sight'- of the way in which men 'see' what their desires condition them to 'see'- which is a recurrent theme in the general plan." The fact that the Merchant hates women can be textually supported. Near the very beginning of his tale the Merchant presents us with four exempla of 'good wives' from the Bible, "Lo, how that Jacob, as thise clerkes rede, By good conseil of his mooder Rebekke, Boond the kydes skyn aboute his nekke, For which his fadres benyson he wan. ...read more.

Conclusion

Also, the Merchant is characteristically concerned with property, and how the taking of a wife will diminish it: "The Merchant's furious indignation at his wife only exacerbates his desire for property. Because his private property has betrayed him -one gathers that his wife was something more than wax- he desires more property all the more intensely, property which, because he owns it, will reinforce his sense of self." The Merchant holds very strong views on the aristocracy and the court, which is comprehensible as he is a bourgeois. The Merchant reveals these views throughout his tale, for example, when describing the courtmans he creates a sycophantically character who is the ultimate courtier agreeing with everything rather than acting as an advisor, "I holde youre owne conseil is the beste. For, brother myn, of me taak this motif, I have been a court-man al my lyf, And God it woot, though I unworthy be." To conclude, the Merchant is a misogynist, he observes the code of courtly love with disdain and holds cynical views about the clergy and the aristocracy. He attempts to support his views by providing exempla, which are more often than not subverted thereby altering their original meaning or inclination. Overall the Merchant takes a very cynical approach to the many issues raised by his tale, revealing a great deal about his character even in the most through-away lines, a vast amount can be learnt. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Geoffrey Chaucer section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Geoffrey Chaucer essays

  1. Chaucer's use of biblical material in ‘The Miller’sTale’.

    church bells is meant to perhaps show that man's plans sometimes unintentionally mirror God's order, or that their time in the bedroom 'is up'. Their 'doings' in the bedroom are even compared to 'revel and melodye', music in God's praise, further mocking the Church.

  2. In this paper I am going to deal with Dryden and his essay Preface ...

    He says translations are like " imported merchandise and not my own manufacture". Dryden chose the fables, both ancient and modern primarily to make it a platform for moral instruction. Hence Dryden brushes aside all charges levelled against him. SECTION III Dryden wishes to translate the whole of Homer's Illiad

  1. With special reference to The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale, would you describe ...

    defeating a lion, Chaucer introduces the idea that if the lion had painted the shield the picture may look very different. Therefore, by placing symbols within his text the audience is able to take the information and reinterpret it. In the same respect it is possible to view symbols within

  2. Write an essay on the variety of ways in which Chaucer treats the subject ...

    The metaphor of blindness, where January is not only literally blind but also blind to the flagrant adultery of his wife and his own frailty, also makes a statement of morality, he is blind to the superficiality of his own relationship and on what vulnerable terms it stands on, that

  1. 'Langland's Piers Plowman greatly influenced The Canterbury Tales'. Discuss, with particular reference to estates ...

    Truthe, 'as kyndely as clerc doth hise bokes' (V. 538). Mann has suggested that no other contemporary works contain an example of the actual journey of a pilgrimage being as fulfilling as the arrival. This does not seem to true as there is a prime example of this employment of a group of travellers telling their tales in The Decameron.

  2. "Its irony makes all the laughter uneasy and slightly strained." How far do you ...

    "When May seeks to allevaiate her unhappy existence it is in an alternative relationship which will not overtly challenge the accepted power relations between husband and wife. . . . The relationship [between May and Damian] is the product of a legitimate marriage.

  1. Chaucer's Pardoner's tale Analysis on lines 520 through to 602

    The repetitiveness in mentioning death keeps it fresh and lingering in the foreground of the tale. The narrative voice morphs from character to character, expressing their views and opinions till the collective conclusion with the brothers lying deceased. The verse collects to form this imagery of shadows caressing their resting

  2. After reading Chaucer's "General Prologue" I can clearly see that the way in which ...

    that he is a man who wants money and is a schemer. "To wynne silver" "Upon a day he gat hym moore moneye" He is described with animalistic imagery "Swiche glarynge eyen hadde he as an hare." "A voys he hadde as smal as hath a goot."

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work